7 Things You Never Knew About The Wolf Fish

7 Things You Never Knew About The Wolf Fish thumbnail

There’s no shortage of dangerous creatures in the waters of the South American jungle, but one of the most impressive and fearsome is the wolf fish. 

These prehistoric-looking fish are reminiscent of the bowfin of North America, with bony heads and a mouthful of teeth. They can grow to massive sizes, with some reaching over 80 lbs. The wolf fish is found throughout Central and South America and can live in anything from drainage ditches to larger rivers.

Like many predatory fish, wolf fish are sought by anglers for their aggressive takes and strong fights. Although they used to be mostly caught by accident while fishing for other species, some outfitters now offer guided trips targeting them.  They’ll take a variety of flies, from poppers to streamers, and are sometimes so eager to eat that they’ll miss a fly. These creatures are very unique so with that here are 7 things you never knew about the wolf fish presented by Scientific Anglers.

1. The Wolf Fish is Not a Single Species

Although generally referred to as the wolf fish, there are actually multiple species with different characteristics. Some of the smaller species max out around 10 inches and feed mostly on small baitfish and insects. The largest, the Giant Wolf Fish, can be several feet long and is known as one of the most voracious predators in the water.

2. They Can “Breathe” Air

Like both the bowfin and the arapaima, wolf fish can “breathe” air to make up for low oxygen levels in the water. When fishing for them, it’s not uncommon to see or hear them come to the surface to gulp air. This clever adaptation allows them to live in places other fish can’t, like murky ponds, swamps, and drainage ditches.

3. They Have Dog-Like Teeth

If you’ve ever seen the dagger-like teeth of a pike or the serrated edges of a shark’s tooth, you know there are plenty of well-equipped predatory fish out there. However, one type of tooth you may not have encountered before is the canine-like tooth of the wolf fish. These thick, boney teeth are perfect for preventing prey from escaping and are followed by another set of teeth in the wolf fish’s throat. For the anglers interested in chasing these fish, a set of pliers and wire leaders are a must. We prefer the Scientific Anglers Premium Figure 8 Wire Leader

4. They are Frequently Kept as Pets

Since the wolf fish is known for its aggressive demeanor, it’s a little surprising that many people keep them as pets. This doesn’t mean that wolf fish in tanks are tame, by any means. They’ll attack pretty much anything that gets in the water, including hands and nets, making feeding and tank cleaning quite the experience. It’s also essential to keep the aquarium covered since they’ll try to jump out if given the chance.

5. They Have Been Known to Move Over Land

Considering that wolf fish are able to gulp air and often try to escape from their aquariums, it’s not too surprising that there are accounts of them surviving on land for brief periods and moving from one water body to another. This is a useful trait for some species of fish, since it allows them to escape small patches of water that dry up. For people, though, it can be alarming. There’s an account of a woman who was planning to keep a wolf fish after a day on the water, so she killed it and put it in a bag. When she came back later, she found that the wolf fish was actually still alive and trying to escape.

6. They are Edible

Looking at a wolf fish, they don’t look particularly appetizing. Big scales, boney heads, and a drab coloration are a far cry from some of the more ornate species. Despite this, they are edible and people in Central and South America do eat them. If you ever get the chance to try one, be warned: they have a lot of bones you’ll need to pick out before digging in.

7. They are More Ferocious Than Piranhas

Piranhas are often considered the quintessential predatory fish of tropical rivers. In reality, though, most of their reputation is unwarranted and they usually feed opportunistically on crustaceans, insects, or even seeds. The wolf fish, on the other hand, lurks in dense vegetation, waiting to ambush prey as it comes past. Although most stories aren’t supported by strong evidence, there have been tales of large animals and even humans being ambushed by wolf fish after getting in the water. Regardless of whether the claims are true, the fact that they exist at all says something about the attitude of the wolf fish.

Article from Katie Burgert, you can follow along with Katie on her Instagram @fishuntamed.

Photos from a recent Flylords trip down to the Parana River with Golden Dorado River Cruiser operation. For more information about this trip, email us at theflylords@gmail.com


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Featured Fly Tyer: Hugo Harlin

Featured Fly Tyer: Hugo Harlin thumbnail

Hugo Harlin is a Swedish fly tyer who has exploded in the fly tying Instagram scene. His creations (as you will see) are as intricate as they are creative. Some tied for fishing and others simply for display, we wanted to hear a little bit more about Hugo’s ties.

Flylords: What was the first fly you tied?

Hugo: The first fly I ever tied was probably a wooly bugger. I remember a tying session with my dad as a 10 or 11-year-old, tying black buggers at first then it quickly derailed with pink tails and yellow chenille bodies. I started tying seriously in early 2015 when I read an article about marabou streamers in a Swedish magazine.

Flylords: What is your favorite pattern to tie?

Hugo: That is a tough question. I’ve really enjoyed tying parachute mayflies in the past, but if I had to give an answer it’s probably my own parachute caddis variant. It’s tied on a curved hook with a biot/pheasant/stripped quill body, a wing of CDC under deer hair and a parachute hackle with a CDC post. I like to tie in pheasant antennae for some extra realism.

Flylords: What is your favorite vise to tie on?

Hugo: I haven’t tried a lot of different vises but my current vice, a Stonfo Transformer, is really solid and pleasant to work with.

Flylords: What is your favorite species of fish to catch on a fly rod?

Hugo: Brown trout hands down, there is something special about a landing a spotted slab of gold. A big kyped male with turquoise gill plates is the dream fish for me.

Flylords: Do you have a different process for tying display flies versus flies to be fished?

Hugo: Since display flies are just that, creations for display only, I have free reign to put all emphasis on aesthetics and forego durability and function. I think of it as relaxing some of the constraints of traditional fly tying, and exploring where that leads me.

When tying fishing flies I have to balance aesthetics, practical performance, and time required to tie the pattern. This puts a limit on the amount of detail I can pour into a fly, and if tying a dry fly I have to make sure that it actually floats. I also try to add as much durability as I can without compromising the finish, by using superglue under biots and pheasant bodies for example.

Flylords: How do you find inspiration to create these works of art?

Hugo: The fly tying community on Instagram has been instrumental for my development as a fly tyer, there are lots of really talented people out there. Robert Strahl from New Zealand has been the biggest influencer on my style, his use of natural materials and his extremely crisp finish is second to none.

Flylords: Your Origami wings are insane, what was your inspiration to create them?

Hugo: There is a Swedish fly tyer named Peder Wigdell that ties some really nice realistic mayflies. He posted an image of an articulated spent spinner with origami wings a couple of years back, and it piqued my interest since I hadn’t seen that wing style before. I started experimenting and developed my own way of making them.

Flylords: Do you have any other special techniques you use?

Hugo: Other than origami wings, I have developed to my knowledge a new technique that allows me to seamlessly overlap biots to create a body of arbitrary length, I call it “biot stacking”. I use it mostly for display flies but it’s applicable on regular flies where a longer biot body is desired, such as on large stimulators.

Flylords: What set up do you use to photograph your flies?

Hugo:  I use a clip-on macro lens and my phone. For lighting, I use desk lamps with paper towels taped over them to diffuse the light.


Flylords: Do you have any advice for other creative fly tyers?

Hugo: Use thin GSP thread. It allows one to achieve a finish and use techniques that are exceedingly difficult or impossible with regular nylon thread. The thinner the better, I use 30 Denier (18/0) for everything except large streamers and deer hair work. Don’t be afraid to back up and redo a part of a fly, sometimes I spend upwards of an hour on a single origami wing before I achieve a finish I’m happy with.

When it comes to being creative, there is lots of inspiration on Instagram. Save posts that are interesting and keep a list of new ideas and variants of patterns.

Be sure to follow along with Hugo on Instagram at @hugo.harlin.

Continue reading “Featured Fly Tyer: Hugo Harlin”

Fly fishing books everyone should read

A few essentials of fly fishing literature

by Spencer Durrant

A few weeks back, I sat in my Monday afternoon contemporary American literature class while we discussed the current renaissance of love for the American West in film and literature. The class is small, required for my major, and I’m a junior in college, so everyone knows me as that “guy who writes about fish and killing elk.”

I protest that I only hunt elk; killing one is lucky.

So, the class deferred discussion to me when our professor said, “Give me some examples of your favorite contemporary Western literature.”

“Trout Bum, Fishing Small Flies, and The River Why,” I responded immediately.

Not surprisingly, my professor hadn’t read John Gierach or Ed Engle. She’d heard of David James Duncan, though, so all is not lost I suppose.

“Not A River Runs Through It?” My professor followed up.

“If they hadn’t made the damn movie that crowded my rivers, I’d like it a lot more,” I said with enough of a grin to show that was tongue-in-cheek.

From there, conversation drifted to Cormac McCarthy and Ivan Doig and Louise Erdrich, but my thoughts stuck with Gierach and Engle and Duncan. None of my classmates even knew fly fishing writing exists as a viable genre, let alone its influence on fly fishing’s popularity. If my peers aren’t aware of fishing writing – and the very real contributions it makes to literature as a whole – what hope does it have 20 years from now?

I’m not sure, but I plan on doing something about it. I spent the last of my teen years and the first few of my 20s as a bonafide trout bum. I slept in my grandma’s basement, drove my dad’s 97 Chevy from Oregon to Colorado and everywhere in between, and chased trout. Now, I’m just a year and a half removed from a degree in English Education and I plan to teach the nuances of language and letters to high school kids in Alaska.

As I’ve pieced my curriculum and lesson plans together, I’ve made a list of the books I want my future students to read in place of the usual dry, dull junk that makes most high schoolers hate reading altogether.

I’ll pull plenty of English lessons from these titles, but they serve a bigger purpose than being a textbook. These books are the tangible, lasting, heritage of our sport – and they’re decidedly more powerful than the last fishy Instagram picture you liked.

Take a moment to browse through this list and my explanation of why every angler should read it.

Trout From The Hills by Ian Niall – I’ve yet to find a fishing book with more lyrically poetic, beautiful prose than Trout From The Hills. Niall’s book is about fly fishing lakes, with a focus on the high country ponds of Wales. It’s a fascinating combination of stories and instruction, and Niall’s tips are as valid now as they were when he wrote the book in 1961.

The River Why By David James Duncan – If A River Runs Through It is fly fishing’s version of The Godfather, then The River Why is our Godfather Part II. It’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, since MacLean wrote a novella and Duncan wrote a proper novel, but Duncan’s story resonates more with me than MacLean’s. It’s fiction, but so well-done that The River Why becomes a story of your very own.

The View From Rat Lake by John Gierach – Pick any of John Gierach’s books and you’re in for a treat. He’s the unquestioned father of modern fishing writing, and definitely one of the best authors the sport has seen. I fished with John during a mediocre blue-winged olive hatch on Utah’s Green River for a week, and he’s much the same in a drift boat as he is on the page.

I picked The View From Rate Lake for this list because its opening essay is likely John’s best. The rest of the book follows suit, and if I had to pick a standard of fly fishing writing by which I measured all else, it’d be “The Big Empty River,” the first essay in this book.

A Modern Dry-Fly Code by Vincent C. Marinaro – If nothing else, Marinaro’s book makes me want to fish the trout streams of Pennsylvania, though it hurts my heart to imagine how much of the landscape has vanished since Marinaro published this book in 1970. This book isn’t long, but it’s dense. Marinaro methodically explains basic-to-advanced dry fly fishing techniques in a way that’s digestible, if not immediately palatable.

The Longest Silence by Tom McGuane – Where all the other authors on this list are mostly trout guys, McGuane gives diversity in his writing. He also went to Yale, wrote screenplays, and novels. But The Longest Silence is McGuane’s best outdoors-related work. McGuane manages to be reflective and not pretentious, something a lot of fishing writers struggle with. And, he’s the best writer on this list, though David James Duncan is a close second.

Caddisflies by Gary LaFontaine – Imagine, if you can, browsing a fly shop’s offerings, only to find no caddis. Hendrickson’s and Adamses in their place, most likely, and not an elk-hair wing in sight. That’s what fly shops were like before LaFontaine wrote this book. It’s an exhaustive study of perhaps the most prominent aquatic insect in trout rivers across the world. If you want to learn as much as you can about the bugs that feed our fish, start your studies with Caddisflies.

This isn’t just the English major in me – these books are important, and not just because they’re old. Think, for a moment, where our world would be if we’d just thrown away Shakespeare’s sonnets? Love or hate him, his writing has undeniably shaped culture for hundreds of years. Fly fishing is a subculture, and without our own collection of infallible classics, can we really survive at all?

Instead of forcing Shakespeare, Woolf, Steinbeck, Dickens, O’Connor, and James down their throats, I’ll push MacLean, Niall, Gierach, McManus, and LaFontaine on my students. Hopefully, one kid reads a story and thinks the same thing I did when I first picked up a dog-eared copy of Trout Bum.

Hell, if John can make a living writing about fish, why can’t I?

Angler’s Paradise: Fishing New Zealand with Shelen Boyes

Angler’s Paradise: Fishing New Zealand with Shelen Boyes thumbnail


Depending on where we hang our hat, most fly fishermen are guilty of daydreaming about transporting our flyrods to a faraway location. In saying that, some anglers will only ever get to fish the same waters they were brought up on and with the way social media is these days it’s hard not to fantasize and live vicariously through the anglers we see on our glass screens. Since moving to New Zealand I’ve often heard kiwi anglers say, “We really forget how privileged we are sometimes.” But what really makes for an angler’s paradise?  

A little over two years ago I discovered a passion for fly fishing while living in the state of Colorado and after a year of attending University in Fort Collins I decided to study abroad down under. During my stay in New Zealand, although I was captivated by everything the country had to offer, what impacted me the most was discovering the differences and similarities between the two cultures and communities I was lucky enough to be a part of. Here are some of my own personal conclusions:

1. Diversity:

First, one of the things I always admired most about fishing near the Rockies was the chance of achieving a Colorado “grand slam” during a day out on the water. This meaning that an angler could catch the four species of trout that inhabit the surrounding lakes and streams; a brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and finally the infamous greenback cutthroat have been found to co-exist not far from one another. On top of that, in some cases, one can add a grayling, whitefish or even a tiger trout to the list. This reason alone is why Colorado, along with other states in the U.S. are highly regarded by fly fisherman wanting to tick off a new species and gaze upon some of the most colorful and vibrant trout in the world.

But unlike the states, New Zealand has a more limited amount of freshwater species an angler can come across when disappearing into the fern-infested countryside. Brown trout and rainbow trout make up the largest percentage of the fish caught in both rivers and lakes. Carp and salmon can also be found in a various locations, as well as the rare and endangered native species known as the Kokopu.

2. Lone Ranger:

Whether you are a laid back or serious angler, one can appreciate being the only fisherman within a 20-mile radius. Once while traveling the north island I decided to fish a river not far from where I was staying, and for the anglers in Colorado and other parts of the states you could only imagine that to my surprise there were no other cars nor people nearby giving me a river all to myself on a Sunday. With both islands combined, 4.7 million people live in New Zealand and unlike the places I’ve called home in the U.S., the number of fly fisherman and anglers here is much lower.

On the other hand, whether you live in Denver or the small-town of Gunnison, 5.6 million people call the state of Colorado home and the number of anglers within a specified area is just as impressive. I once had a friend who would never fish on the weekends because even during the colder seasons of the year, favorite fishing spots and gold-medal stretches would be crowded with vehicles from 6 a.m. until well into the evening. Sometimes the only way to be a lone angler on the water was to hike into the isolated wilderness in search of wild fish who had never seen a fly, but even this has proven to be difficult.  

3. Laws & Limitations:

In the states, most die-hard fishermen are well-acquainted with trout expeditions occurring in the dead of winter when the feeling of one’s fingers becomes scarce. In places such as Colorado, anglers are allowed to fish year-round and are asked to mind redd beds when fishing during trout spawning seasons. There is also a high percentage of private land throughout Colorado as well as fishing lodges that block access to rivers and because of the already large volume of fish in the state, plenty of trout can swim upstream without coming in contact with people.

But unlike the regulations in parts of the United States, in New Zealand there’s what’s called an off-season. This is the period of time between the months from July 1st to September 30th when anglers cannot fish certain rivers or lakes allowing brown and rainbow trout to spawn undisturbed. As for the people who start to go a little crazy after a few fishless weeks, have no fear! There are particular fisheries such as the rivers near Turangi on the north island that an angler can cast a fly right through winter although there are limits as to how high up the river anglers can fish. These rivers have predominately more rainbow trout than browns, and anglers are encouraged to keep fish each trip. The numbers of trout are at such levels that the Department of Conservation for the Lake Taupo area doubled the allowable bag limit last year to 6 trout to try and drop fish numbers. This will hopefully lead to a higher amount of feed for the remaining fish leading to larger average sizes, time will tell.

4. Loch Ness Monster:

Growing up in America, it doesn’t take long to develop an awareness for danger when exploring the outdoors. Once while I was fly fishing in Colorado, I had the eerie experience of coming across a dead mountain lion in the snow. Another time I had the memorable encounter of fishing across river from a cow elk. It’s true that in places like the western United States a fisherman can never be too careful when checking their surroundings for an aggressive moose or a poisonous creepy-crawly.

As for the outdoor-enthusiasts and anglers standing knee-deep in a backcountry river down under, it’s best to watch your toes! The shocking experience of attempting to land a trout in New Zealand, only to discover a 5-foot eel at your boots is not always a pleasant one. These freshwater serpents, better known as the longfin eel are mostly harmless and on the rare occasion have been known to nip at people swimming in their territory. Normally the eels will stay hidden and won’t reveal themselves until feeling the vibrations and distress signals in the water caused by the hooked fish. To ensure that no harm will come to your catch, when releasing the trout make sure that it is revived and strong enough to swim away from the unwanted visitor.

These of course are only just the highlights as there are far more bullet points to be discussed such as trout size, fly selection and leader length. Overall, the experience of calling two different countries home is one I’ll forever be grateful for. The wonderful people I’ve encountered over the past few years have continued to influence and inspire me almost every day. It’s crazy that no matter where I’ve lived in the states, or internationally, all anglers seem to possess as a zest for life and an irrepressible passion for the water and all that inhabit it.

So whether you’re a guide in the Bahamas or a beginning angler in Utah, we all feel an appreciation and gratefulness towards the waters we’ve had the privilege of being guests on. Each fishery is unique and special in its own way, all having the ability to teach us something new every time a cast is made.

Shelen Scout Boyes is a college student splitting time between New Zealand and Fort Collins, Colorado. For her latest adventures down south give her a follow on Instagram at @troutscoutlife. Additional photos from Connor Andrew @newzealandflyfisher.

Check out these other articles on fishing New Zealand:

5 Tips to Get Hooked Up in the New Zealand Backcountry

10 Things to Remember While Fishing in Variable Weather

The Fence Fight


Here’s to Catch and Release: Giant Brown Trout

Here’s to Catch and Release: Giant Brown Trout thumbnail

Living in Southwest Montana, physically getting to the water can be the hardest part of winter fishing, but when the chinook winds show up in mid-January and start raising the mercury it’s time to get out.

We got to the river after post-holing down from the highway and started with streamers. After just a few casts the line went tight, and there he was. Big esox style head-shakes and obvious weight, but he gave into the net unremarkably. My buddy Jeremy scooped him up chanting “dude” repeatedly with alternating emphasis, an exclamation to question. We snapped phone pics and recorded the release but got him home quickly.

He was pretty beat up missing part of his right gill plate, a few large discolored marks on his body, a tail that had clearly been digging and though it was healing it didn’t look good. His giant deformed snout and head were so misshaped, it looked like someone had used him like battering ram as his teeth were literally spilling out of the side of his mouth. Such a unique fish.

He swam away strong but it’s a bittersweet feeling catching an old soldier. You’re not doing them any favors and are more likely a nail in the coffin. So, when Jeremy and I went back in mid-February, with our friend and local photographer, Wesley White, we definitely were not expecting to see the old man again much less completely healed and packing on pounds, He ate a Galloup’s Flank-Back Creature the first time and absolutely annihilated a Peanut Envy the second. Here’s to Catch and Release.

Charlie Gordon is a Montana angler who loves roping in huge brown trout! Check him out on Instagram @buffshoals!

Photos courtesy of Charlie Gordon and Wesley White.

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5 Popular Ways to Protect Travel Fishing Rods

Learn how to pack and protect your travel fishing rods while taking trips to the world’s wildest destinations and fisheries.

A Review of Rod Sleeves, Socks, Tubes, and Cases

From filling up the truck to flying with your favorite fishing rods, this blog aims to cover the different methods of protection that ensure your travel rod makes the trip intact.

***Keep in mind, you should always consult the rules and regulations of your airline prior to bringing any fishing rod or equipment along for the trip.***

Whether you’re a traveling angler or a fisherman looking to getaway, use the following advice to choose the best protection plan to bring your fishing rods along with you.

1. MHX Spinning and Casting Rod Sleeves

Storage made stylish, the MHX Spinning Rod Sleeve and MHX Casting Rod Sleeve protect your rods from damage and look darn good doing it. Each sleeve is designed to protect the blank, the line guides, and the tip of the rod during storage and transportation.

Not only can you easily store and shield your MHX rods, these sleeves are also engineered with a unique material that will neither mold nor mildew. Plus, the rubberized coating on the bell end is virtually impervious to hook penetration and greatly reduces tangles during transport.

Available in lengths for 6’6″ to 7’6″ rods, the MHX rod sleeves fit a wide range of fishing rods and come in two cool color combinations, black and gold or black and green.

Pick up your MHX Rod Sleeves right here!

2. Clear Creek Cloth Rod Sock

Designed for simplicity, organization, and value, the Clear Creek Rod Sock is a popular protection method for traveling with fly rods or even spinning and casting rods.

Starting with the material, each clear creek rod sock is made of an ultra-soft microfiber suede that keeps nicks and scratches away from your travel rods. Plus, with multiple compartments perfect for securing rods from 1-piece all the way to 4-pieces, these rod socks can hold just about any travel rod you own.

Each sock also features a flap and tie closure for added protection that can be used on its own or within a rod tube, but we’ll cover more of the rod tube method in number 5 below.

Check out the Clear Creek Cloth Rod Socks now!

*Since there are so many options to fit individual customer’s needs, these rod socks are special delivery items, so please allow for extra time on shipping.*

3. St. Croix Cloth Rod Sacks

The St. Croix Cloth Rod Sack combines a super soft cloth and separate sewn in compartments for a design that makes rods easier to pack up and more importantly, protects rods from damage.

This particular rod sack is made to fit most freshwater rods as well as many saltwater rods, excluding some surf rods.

The St. Croix rod sacks provide an extra layer of protection whether you’re traveling or storing your fishing rods.

See the St. Croix Cloth Rod Sacks for yourself.

4. Travel Fishing Rod Cases and Rod Tubes

As many anglers know, there is a bit of a difference between packing up your gear for a quick outing on the local lake, and preparing your gear to travel thousands of miles to reach your fishing destination.

So the question becomes, what works better in each circumstance, a rod case or a rod tube?

The St. Croix Traveler Rod Case

The St. Croix Traveler Rod Cases feature a durable 1000 denier nylon-covered P.V.C. with foam padded ends for rod tip protection and reinforced support for the handle.

The Traveler Rod Case also features divided nylon liners to separate and protect each section of your travel rod without having to add a rod sack.

There are two options for rod cases, either the Traveler Rod Case that fits the rod alone, or the Traveler Rod and Reel Case that includes a strategically designed pocket for the reel. The rod and reel case allows you to leave the reel in place on the rod and keep everything together in the same place.

The Clear Creek Rod Tube

Compact and durable, the Clear Creek Rod Tubes are perfect for protecting your individual rods whether you’re traveling locally or across the globe.

These rod tubes include divided interior liners that prevent scratching during transportation and reinforced seams that handle any rough-and-tough action along the way. With a crush-proof core, extra padding, and scuff resistant cap, each rod tube shields your travel rod while the rugged 1000 denier nylon water-repellent outer material keeps it nice and dry.

One key difference that makes the rod tube slightly better for flights and extensive traveling is that the tube’s flip top includes lockable zipper pulls. So while rod tubes and rod cases both work to protect travel rods from damage, rod tubes go above and beyond to keep rods safely concealed.

Clear Creek Rod Tubes are available in three colors; green, navy, and burgundy, as well as multiple size variations to ensure the best fit for your travel rod.

5. Combine Travel Rod Socks with Rod Tubes

If your fishing trip is taking you the extra mile, take the same precautions with your travel fishing rods.

In this case, the extra mile means beginning with a cloth rod sock, and then sliding your travel rod and the sock together into the rod tube.

Sure this may seem extra, but when it comes to protecting the rods you love, is there such a thing as too far?

This extra layer of protection is well worth it for extensive traveling or for trips where you don’t see who’s handling your gear or more importantly, how they’re handling it to begin with.

You can find all the rod storage and protection products above exclusively at Mud Hole!

Build Your Own Destination Travel Fishing Rod

With MHX Travel Rod Kits, you can build the same high-performance quality expected from MHX, but in the multi-piece construction that makes traveling much more convenient.

After all, what good is a travel rod, if the travel rod ain’t any good in the first place?

Learn more about building travel rods in our blog: Top 3 Destination Travel Rods

The MHX Travel Series allows you to build a packable travel rod without sacrificing its superior performance once you reach the water.

How to Shoot Photos Without Blowing Up Your Spots

How to Shoot Photos Without Blowing Up Your Spots thumbnail

Fly fishing, and fishing, in general, is a sport of secrecy. The advent of the internet has rendered the techniques, equipment, and for the most part the flies as common knowledge. However, one aspect of the sport retains an air of secrecy, fishing spots. Every angler has a list of secret streams that they guard closely or share with only trusted friends who have earned that knowledge. I guard my fishing spots like a momma bear guards her cubs. They are sacred to me and as such preserving them is my top priority.

Aside from fly fishing, I am an amateur photographer and I love photographing my adventures on the fly. The marriage of photography and fly fishing can be a wonderful way to preserve your best catches, memories, and experiences on the water. Photographing your trips and catches opens up the opportunity for others to recognize where you are. If done carelessly, photographing your journey can be detrimental to preserving your favorite honey holes. In the interest of saving my own spots, as well as your own, we will examine some tips and techniques of taking photos in a way that will fossilize your favorite memories while still conserving your fishing spots.

For clarification, when talking about photography tips from here on I will be assuming that everyone is a beginner photographer for instructional purposes. If you are a seasoned photographer just hang on for the tips and ideas rather than the technical side of the tutorial. I find most anglers who take photos fall into one of two categories: people who have a camera that can shoot in manual mode (i.e. a mirrorless camera, point and shoot cameras, micro 4/3’s cameras, or full frame DSLR’s) and people who use their smartphones to document their fishing trips. For those less familiar, let’s get some basic photography verbiage out of the way.

Generally speaking, photographers are concerned with the three elements that make up the exposure triangle, which are aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Aperture, which is denoted by an “F” followed by a number, controls how much light is entering your camera. A lower aperture like F1.8 will allow in a lot more light and create more background blur than a larger aperture like F16. Shutter speed is how fast your shutter moves when taking a picture, which is useful in stopping motion or drawing motion out for those sexy waterfall shots. ISO is related to light sensitivity and overall image quality. Finding the balance among these 3 aspects will have a dramatic effect on your photos. I have used both smartphone cameras and traditional cameras and can offer my advice on how to shoot with either setup.

Whether you use a smartphone or a traditional camera my single biggest tip to help mask your location is to use bokeh, or background blur. Blurring out the background will separate your subject and create a greater sense of depth while keeping your background relatively indistinguishable.

Smartphone cameras have come a long way from their early days. In fact, smartphone cameras are so good that most hobby anglers will never upgrade to a dedicated camera because they can achieve decent results with their phone alone. Phone users can also be placed into two categories: Apple users and Droid users. Luckily, both brands use similar software and apps to achieve certain functionality and aesthetic and as such the tips should work for either with a little trial and error.

Portrait mode is a new feature on most phones, and if your phone doesn’t have it you can use the one built into instagram called “Focus” mode. Portrait mode allows your phone to either shoot at a lower aperture or use software in the phone to achieve/simulate bokeh. A blurred out background adds an artistic flair to your photos while maintaining the ambiguity of your location. If you are looking for more control and better photo quality from your smartphone I would suggest using “Pro” or “Manual” mode depending on the phone you have. Either of these modes give you control over aperture, shutter speed, and ISO just like shooting in manual mode on a traditional camera.

To achieve bokeh in manual mode on your smartphone simply select a lower aperture number. If you are in a low light situation you may have to decrease your shutter speed or increase your ISO. Photography, much like fly fishing, is about trial and error and learning to control certain variables. Don’t be afraid to try and fail; we learn best from failure, not success. Soon you will get the hang of it and see a marked difference in your photographs.

Traditional cameras give the user more control and produce a higher quality image than smartphones. Whether you have a entry level camera or a top of the line DSLR the following tips will be applicable. Traditional cameras, and the lens you use, have the actual physical mechanisms that can produce background blur whereas smartphones are generally using software to mimic this effect. Bokeh is my single greatest tool to help keep the anonymity of my fishing spots. Either shoot in manual mode, which is marked by an “M” on most cameras; or shoot in aperture priority mode, which is denoted by an “A” on your mode select dial. I shoot in aperture priority mode most often as I am primarily concerned with my depth of field and producing that background blur. Shooting in aperture priority also allows me to release the fish quicker because I am letting the camera calculate the shutter speed and ISO. However, once you get used to manual mode it does not take much longer to get the settings you want.

General Tips that I consider when taking my own photos:

  • Avoid distinctive man-made structures. Having a man-made structure like a bridge, home, or a wall can be a dead give away of where you are at. Be conscious of your background when taking your photo and position yourself away from the structure in question. Try to include ambiguous things that could be anywhere like rocks, plants, or the stream itself.
  • Crop your photos in tight. Even if you have a unique feature in the photo that could be identified easily you can crop your image to include just the fish, or just you and the fish and exclude most of your background. I use this technique in almost all of my shots. Even the ones that include myself in the image are cropped close and my body coupled with the crop and background blur hides my location while still maintaining an artistic look.
  • Waterfalls can be a sure fire way to blow your spot. If you post a picture of a waterfall try to make sure that it is either unnamed or very obscure. If it is named just know that all someone has to do is reverse image search it on google to figure out where it is. I have done this to figure out where people are in the past.
  • Invest in a waterproof bag of some sort to keep your camera in at all times while fishing. The camera should only be loose when a photo is about to or being taken.
  • Finally, this one is most common sense, but I see it all the time on instagram: never geotag the actual location of your spot or name drop it in your caption.

Technical tips:

  • Use a low aperture number, example F1.8, to get more background blur
  • If your lens does not have a low aperture number try zooming in as far as your can to take your image, this will help produce a moderate amount of blue without actually have a low F number.
  • Use higher F numbers for landscape shots to bring more things into focus.
  • I always have my ISO set at 100 for best image quality. That coupled with shooting in aperture priority mode means that the camera will only be calculating the shutter speed.
  • You can also set a minimum and maximum ISO range in your camera’s settings if you do not want to shoot with a fixed ISO.
  • Use manual mode or shutter priority for long exposure shots of waterfalls or rapids to help achieve the silky texture of the water. Shoot for a half second up to a couple. seconds for your shutter speed along with a higher aperture. If you are using a Neutral Density Filter you can use longer shutter speeds to get an even better effect.
  • When fishing solo, have a dedicated flexible tripod to carry with you. I have owned everything from a cheap $17 dollar one to the more expensive Joby Gorillapods and they all work. Hold the fish in the net, set up your camera on the flexible tripod, use a 2-10 second time delay, press your shutter button, hold the fish in the water until right before the picture takes, raise up and catch all those drippy droplets coming off the fish, then release.
  • Try focusing on the eye of your fish. In my experience, this helps bring out the greatest detail in your shot and emphasizes that the fish is the subject of the photo and not you.
  • Use a circular polarizing filter on your lens to reduce the glare of the water, and the glare on the wet fish to bring out more true colors.

I know there will be some expert photographers out there scoffing at my tips and explanations as well as some people who don’t see a point in guarding your favorite fishing spots. Regardless, these tips have helped me to not only take better photos but simultaneously guard my favorite fisheries. The reality is that there are no true secret spots anymore. Chances are that someone else knows and cherishes the same spot as you. That doesn’t make the spot any less special to you or any less in danger from overfishing and over pressure. If all of the handful of people that love a certain spot go out of their way to protect the spot either by not talking about it or by using some of the photography tips mentioned here to conceal its location, then the fishery will have a longer, healthier life. That is worth doing and your spots are worth protecting. Take your shot, but don’t blow the spot.

Article and photos from Ben Wayne, a fly fishing guide based out Boone, North Carolina. For more of his killer photos check him out on Instagram at @browntroutben or on his website at www.browntroutben.com.

Lift-Off: How to Shoot Mid-Air Fish Photos

Underwater Photography Tips

Small Water Browns: Tips and Techniques

Costa Behind the Guides: Arlo Townsend

 Meet Arlo Townsend, one of the longest working guides on the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake. We spent the day with Arlo searching for trophy Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and talking to him about his years in the guiding biz. We are excited to add Arlo to our ongoing blog series “Behind the Guides” presented by Costa Sunglasses.

Flylords: Tell us where we’re going right now?

Arlo: Headin’ out to Pyramid Lake, Northwestern Nevada. It’s about a half a million-acre American Indian Reservation.

Flylords: What makes this lake unique?

Arlo: Pyramid is a 24-mile-long lake, eight-mile-wide, enormous high-desert lake. It has the biggest Lahontan cutthroat trout in the world, that swim within its waters.

Probably gives you the best chance anywhere in the United States right now, for a 20-pound trout.

Flylords: How would you describe yourself?

Arlo: Been one of the longest working guides on the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake out here. Doing the fly fishing thing before the social media and everything that goes along with it. I’m just a hardcore fisherman that takes his craft in real high regard. I just think I was put on this earth to create the best experiences, showing clients how to have the best time going fishing.

Flylords: How many years have you been doing this for, and what keeps you coming back every year? 

Arlo: I guess this is my 15th year, going on 16 years guiding out here. At this point in life, I probably don’t know anything else. But I do know whenever I’m on the water with clients, life makes sense to me, and that’s what keeps me going back. Get off of the water, life doesn’t make as much sense. Being on the water with clients is a very comforting place for me. It’s a place where the world makes sense.

Flylords: Why do you think you decided to set up home base in this area?

Arlo: That is a great question. I moved down from Alaska, where you think I would pursue being a fly fishing guide, but Reno grasped me with the brown trout in the Truckee River and it kept me here because I can fish and run a business here 12 months a year, which is always what I wanted to do. I don’t have to take any breaks from fishing, it’s a mild enough climate that I can fish 12 months a year here. And it’s challenging every month of it.

Flylords: Do you have a favorite fish that comes to mind?

Arlo: That’s gonna be tough with Pyramid Lake.

Brown trout out of the Truckee River

My favorite fish is a brown trout.

Flylords: What’s your largest fish from Pyramid Lake?

Arlo: Largest fish from Pyramid Lake… It’s not a recorded measurement with a certified scale, but through the measurements of the fish and plugging it into equations that tell us supposedly how heavy fish should be, it was a fish between 28 and 32 pounds that a client caught, back in 2016.

Flylords: If you had to choose one fly to fish, what would that fly be?

Arlo: My favorite fly is the Patriot Midge. It’s a fly that shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it’s red, white and blue, I love America, I love what this country allows people to do, as far as pursuing their passions and making a living out of it. I love to be able to swim the colors of our country with the Patriot Midge while floating flies at Pyramid Lake.

Flylords: What do you think the most challenging part of being a full-time guide is?

Arlo: The work in between being on the water. It’s a life of organization and continuous preparedness if that is a word. The work behind the scenes is something that I never figured would take up as much time as it does. It’s a work that you’re never off the clock, it’s a job you’re never off the clock.

Flylords: Tell us about what your ideal setup looks like for Pyramid Lake.

Arlo: Easiest Pyramid Lake setup to deal with is really simple. A floating line, an indicator, and a couple of chironomids or a balanced leach about six to eight feet underneath it, usually attached with 2X or 3X fluorocarbon. We cast that setup over the shelf line and wait for the fish to do the rest of the work from there.

Flylords: Can you describe a Lahontan cutthroat?

Arlo: Lahontan cutthroat trout is one of the biggest bellied fish I’ve ever seen. They’re some of the fattest fish in their stature. I think they have more fat than muscle a lot of the time. There’s a lot of variety in between the Lahontan cutthroat trout you catch, which keeps things interesting. Rarely do you have a cookie cutter day, with a Lahontan cutthroat trout. Every one of them seems to have its own characteristics, like a snowflake, no two are alike from my experiences with them.

Flylords: Can you think of one thing that stands out as maybe the craziest thing that you’ve seen in the wild?

Arlo: One instance that comes to mind is back in 2012. I was standing on the banks of Pyramid Lake with a client, and at a beach I had fished hundreds of times before. Out of nowhere, about 20 yards away from us offshore, comes swimming a river otter. River otters are not supposed to be in Pyramid Lake, or haven’t been in Pyramid Lake since the late 1800s. My client and I were lucky to get half a dozen pictures of the only river otter spotted in Pyramid Lake since the 1940s… That was a pretty amazing circumstance.

Flylords: Tell us about when you first got connected with Costa and what it means to you to be a Costa Pro guide?

Arlo: I got connected with Costa from my old relationship with Peter working at Simms. So, I’ve known Peter a long time from when he worked for a prior company. Costa has always seemed to be a company that went above and beyond making sunglasses. Not only did they put out a great product for the anglers, but they seem to care about the environment and the habitats that buyers spend their time in. That’s really important to me and really feel lucky to be a part of that now.

Flylords: Do you have a favorite pair of Costa lenses that you like to use in this fishery?

Arlo: The Costa Motu’s with Sunrise Yellow glass lenses are the best glasses I have ever used in low-light periods at Pyramid Lake. Mornings and evenings, I can’t fish without them.

Flylords: Are you involved in any conservation efforts?

Arlo: So, that’s one thing I’ve always been finding my way with. I suppose the biggest impact I try to make is just in the daily interaction I have with my clients. I guess the best thing I can do and know how to do is simply lead by example through the hundreds if not thousands of people I touch, teaching fly fishing through the years.

Flylords: Are there any other species of fish in Pyramid Lake, other than the cutthroat trout?

Sacramento Perch

Arlo: There are. Pyramid lake has an ancient fish called the Cui-ui, which supposedly has been around for over two million years. It is specific only to Pyramid Lake. It’s a Hoover sucker styled fish, that is a federally protected fish. You’re supposed to let them go as soon as you catch them. But it’s an exotic fish, I suppose, and one that not a whole lot of anglers have checked off of their list. Pyramid Lake also has the Tahoe Sucker, Sacramento Perch, and the Tui Chub.

You can follow along with Arlo on Instagram at Arlo Townsend and be sure to check out Costa’s latest line of sunglasses here.

Costa Behind the Guides: Matt McCannel

Costa Behind the Guides: Dave McCoy

Costa Behind The Guides: Kate Crump

5 Reasons Why Your Kid Needs His/Her Own Fly Box

5 Reasons Why Your Kid Needs His/Her Own Fly Box thumbnail

Two years ago I wrote a two part series on how you can help your kids  get into fly fishing. Although I don’t have a degree in early childhood education and am not a perfect parent, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the ideas I presented back then work. How do I know? They’ve worked on my kids and my friends’ kids. That sample size might not be enormous, but its not like you need a rigorous program with a defended thesis behind it to get a kid to enjoy being outside.

The one thing that I recommended that seems to have resonated the most with the kids in my life is this: Give them  their own fly box.

My boys had fly boxes before either of them cast a rod or landed a trout. I bought a cheap box and put a few random flies in it. The next time we went to a fly shop, a big box outdoor store, or an expo show, they each got to pick out a few more bugs. The trips out and the quantity of flies add up. Believe it or not, they accumulate flies at a faster rate than they lose them in trees.

Most of all, they enjoy it. If you need convincing, I’ve got some solid principles as to why this works. Here are five:

Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Your Kid Needs His/Her Own Fly Box”

The LeHigh River: A Hidden East Coast Paradise

When you think of big, wild east coast brown trout, typically you think of the Upper Delaware River or the tailwaters of New England. However, the Lehigh River which is the second biggest tributary of the Delaware River, holds large wild brown trout and boasts scenery that rivals many Western trout rivers.

Recently a group of anglers has begun working to grow the fishery and share it with more people as the Reading Eagle writes:

“It has the potential to be the best drift boat fishing east of the Mississippi,” he said of the river below Lehigh Gorge, “30 miles, and every bit of it trout water.”

Check out this video highlighting the Lehigh River and its fishery:


To read more about the growth of the Lehigh, read the rest of the Reading Eagle piece, here.

Continue reading “The LeHigh River: A Hidden East Coast Paradise”